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Thursday, November 14

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Bears Thu Sep 17 2009

Footballic Ramblings: The Champs Come to Town

The Bears welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon and if the question marks from the "Lambeau Let-down:" "Will the real Cutler please show up and perform?"; "What now for the depeleted linebacker corp?"; "Must the secondary be so bad?"; wasn't enough for the Bears, hosting the Super Bowl champs to avoid going 0-2 surely will be. ["I am serious, and don't call me "Shirley." "Airplane!" Also, that's an amazing run-on sentence-Ed.]

The Steelers have been the apex predator in the food chain that is the AFC North for the better part of this decade and have made numerous runs deep into the playoffs including two Super Bowl victories with two different head coaches (half-chin, half-man, all-awesome, Bill Cowher and relative n00b, Mike Tomlin). The interesting aspect about Pittsburgh's success is how it has come in a variety of ways. Under Cowher the Steelers were a classically-styled, "3 yards and a cloud of dust" offense, led by the bruising Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger serving as a "game manager" of a quarterback; while their brutal defense slowly strangled the life out of even the most robust offenses. Currently with Tomlin at the helm, the defense has remained just as vicious but now sports more sophisticated blitz packages and their various schemes are much more effectively masked. The offense has evolved too, gone are the days of "rush on 1st down, rush on 2nd down, rush on 3rd down," the Steelers offense has become very opportunistic and will happily go vertical or run it down your throat depending on what the defense gives them.

Fortunately for Bears fans on Sunday they should get plenty of opportunities to witness all aspects of Pittsburgh's offensive artillery. Considering the psychological impact of Urlacher's season-ending surgery and the, y'know, gaping void at middle linebacker on the field, along with the abysmal play of the secondary, expect Pittsburgh's offense to be clicking on all cylinders and for the Bears' Hunter Hillenmeyer (replacing Urlacher for the season) and greenhorn Zach Bowman (likely replacing Nathan Vasher at cornerback) to be tested, tested, tested until FAIL or SUCCESS. With Roethlisberger behind center expect to see the offensive line making space for the troika of running backs: Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and 3rd down specialist, Mewelde Moore. Through the air, count on Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes to be abusing the Bears secondary, much to the chagrin of all but the most-hardened of criminal's sensibilities.

For da Bears on offense, Cutler will be seeking redemption against a very keyed-up defense that has held all but the most-dangerous of offenses (Arizona in Super Bowl last season) to well below average in points, rushing yards, passing yards, anything. Cutler will be facing the unenviable and very difficult task of getting the offense going, while also not having Matt Forte to lean on, not due to injury, mind you, but because the Steelers do not allow running backs any room to run. Forte will only get running space if Cutler can somehow soften the Steelers up with deep receptions to Hester, Olsen, Bennett or rookie speedster Johnny Knox. Frankly, this match-up, on both sides of the ball, has terrible mismatch written all over it and the Steelers should roll. However, stranger things have happened and if Cutler can somehow get the offense going...

The Bears aren't on 'til 3:15! What Can I Watch 'til Then?

506.com's NFL TV sked breaks it down as such and, well, if you have NFL Gameday Ticket, you'll wanna use it:

Noon Game on CBS is: Cincinnati @ Green Bay: Mildly entertaining game that has some potential for a shoot-out if Carson Palmer and Aaron Rogers are both feelin' it. Fantasy Intrigue: Will Ochocinco dominate? How 'bout Chris "Jailhouse" Henry? Can Green Bay's defense sustain it's momentum from last week's pantsing of the Bears? Does Aaron Rogers need a #2 receiver or is Gregg Jennings enough?

Noon Game on FOX is: Minnesota @ Detroit: Look, I guarantee you, Detroit is going to win a few games this year however their epic losing streak will continue until at least next week considering what Adrian Peterson will be doing to their defense. Fantasy Intrigue: How many yards/TDs will Purple Jesus rush for this week? Will this be the week Matt Stafford hooks up with Megatron aka: Calvin Johnson for a TD? Does the ghost of Brett Favre's ability need to be present or can Purple Jesus handle this game himself?

Sunday Nighter on NBC is: New York Giants @ Dallas: Live from the gajillion dollar space station that Jerry Jones built, Giants 'Boys is always an entertaining game. Fantasy Intrigue: Will NY's patented "Kill. YOU. QB" defense throttle Tony Romo or will Romo get the Dallas offense rolling?

 
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